By Bonnie A. Rabinovitch-Mantel, CFLS.
Every year, over 4.7 million women in the United States suffer from physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner, according to statistics compiled by The Huffington Post. In San Diego and in the rest of the country, domestic violence is a pervasive issue that affects women and men from all walks of life. According to the same coverage from the Huffington Post, every day three women in the United States are killed by their current or former partner. Domestic violence threatens the lives of millions, as well as impacts the lives of children who live in homes affected by domestic abuse. HuffPo reports that on a global level, men that experience or witness domestic violence as children face 3 to 4 times the likelihood to abuse their partners as adults.
Though domestic violence is a serious and widespread issue in the United States, it often flies under the radar of the public consciousness unless a scandal of some kind makes tabloid headlines. However, chart-topping Scottish musician Hozier recently used his fame for a good cause in his music video for the single, “Cherry Wine.” Hozier’s most well- known single, “Take Me to Church,” launched him to international renown back in 2014. With his latest single and video, Hozier takes on domestic violence by highlighting the plight of one woman, played by two-time Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan. The music video for “Cherry Wine,” seemingly depicts a romantic scene between a woman and her partner. As the video progresses, however, Ronan’s unnamed character slowly washes away the face makeup that had been hiding her bruises. Her partner comes to her contrite, and the cycle of abuse appears to repeat again.
The effectiveness of the video is in its real-life depiction of domestic violence. Often times, victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse cycle through a process of violence. Tension building, followed by an explosion of anger and/or violence, then followed by a honeymoon phase wherein the abuser softens and seek forgiveness; then the cycle begins again. One of strengths of the “Cherry Wine” music video is its relatable premise—the couple appears happy and in love, but slowly the realization dawns that not all that the viewer sees is what it seems. As Saoirse Ronan’s character gazes into her mirror, then wipes away her makeup and reveals a gruesome black eye, the audience realizes what violence has been occurring behind closed doors.
On his website, Hozier wrote, “With the song Cherry Wine, I tried to get across the difficulty of coming to terms with and facing up to domestic violence and the dynamic of an abusive relationship. Domestic violence is an ongoing issue in our society, the statistics of which are shocking and the effects of which damage whole families, communities, and span generations.” The video concludes with the call to action hashtag #faceuptodomesticviolence. All of the song’s proceeds will be distributed to 20 different domestic abuse organizations worldwide.
If you or someone you love is struggling with domestic violence or abuse in any capacity, don’t wait, call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) to get in contact with the National Domestic Violence Hotline.